A new 18,000 square-foot Planned Parenthood clinic opened Wednesday in Southern Illinois, after over a year of secret construction. Codenamed “Alaska,” the project is just 13 miles from Missouri’s last Planned Parenthood, and was built by the organization with the intention of extending abortion access to women from Missouri, which has recently passed a string of restrictive abortion legislation.
“The truth is that our patients want easier access … [the new clinic] is an opportunity for them to get that care with less judgement, with less restriction, and with far fewer hoops to jump through,” Dr. Colleen McNicholas, the chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, explained to CBS News.
Planned Parenthood began working on the facility in August 2018, and used a shell company to divert public attention and scrutiny from the construction of one of the largest abortion clinics in the country.
McNicholas said the decision to be secretive was in part intended to avoid delays. At previous Planned Parenthood construction projects in different parts of the country, contractors had refused to work on the project after learning the purpose of the building.
The clinic cost nearly $7 million, and will be equipped to see roughly 11,000 women per year. CBS News visited the location in August while the building was still under construction, but waited to release the story until the facility was completed.
Illinois, which earlier this year passed the “Reproductive Health Act” establishing abortion as a fundamental right, has seen a major uptick in out-of-state abortion seekers.
Mary Kate Knorr, the executive director of Illinois Right to Life, told CBS News “It’s a travesty that this is happening. It’s a travesty that women come here to get an abortion.”